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Advancing green power: Current approach is too conventional

Big corporations are not prepared for a decentralized, decarbonized and digitized future.


Only 30% of survey respondents have implemented or plan to use energy storage. PHOTO: FOTOLIA

When it comes to energy and carbon management, businesses may believe they’re ready for a decentralized, decarbonized and digitized future, but a survey of large corporations (US$100 million or more) suggests otherwise.

Schneider Electric’s global study of 240 organizations in 11 segments, including consumer goods and industrial, found many are not taking the necessary steps to integrate and advance energy and sustainability efforts.

The global company, which focuses on energy and carbon management, and automation, attributed their false sense of security to fairly conventional approaches to these issues. Projects in development or initiated tend to involve energy, water and waste conservation; and aside from renewables (completed or planned by 50%), few are implementing more advanced strategies and technologies.

Eighty-one per cent of companies have made energy efficiency upgrades or plan to within the next two years, while 75% are working on reducing water consumption and waste but just 30% have implemented or plan to use energy storage, microgrids, combined heat and power or a mix of the technologies. And only 23% have demand response strategies in place or plan to do in the near term.

How are Canadian companies doing? Kaliyur Sridharan, Schneider Electric’s Toronto-based director of utility sales and North American strategy, says there’s a general awareness of energy conservation among industrial and goods producing companies. “They’re making an effort in select areas…and that has been happening in industry for a long time.”

But he says integrated energy requires more effort, while sustainability, planning and execution are evident in select pockets. “I think we can enhance that and take it to the next level.”

Advanced concepts

Data management is another issue. “How do we use energy, how do we buy energy are two key questions. If we have the answer to the first, then we can plan on bringing advanced concepts to North America, and Canada,” Sridharan says.

When power is created in one place and transmitted and distributed in another, there’s an enormous loss of energy, so decentralization is good, and he says there are examples of that in Ontario.

Microgrid projects are progressing. He cites a company in the GTA that recently embraced electric vehicles charging stations and implemented a microgrid advisory program “which tells us Ontario is taking steps to decentralize through microgrids. In terms of size they aren’t massive, but we are quite happy they are unfolding here. And that may be a future answer to the cost of electricity being consumed in Ontario.”

He says Canadian concerns centre on funding, resources, financial backing and leadership commitment, which is similar to other global companies.

Internal alignment is a primary barrier to progress. Sixty-one per cent of respondents noted energy and sustainability decisions are poorly co-ordinated across teams and departments, particularly among consumer goods and industrial businesses.

Globally, data management is an obstacle to integrated energy and carbon management. Forty-five per cent of the respondents describe organizational data as highly decentralized, and of those who identified insufficient tools or metrics for data sharing or project evaluation, 65% were managing data at local or regional levels, not globally.

Visit www.schneider-electric.ca/en/search/GreenBiz for a copy of the report.

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